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Morrissey (left). Photo courtesy of Interlochen Center for the Arts

When Joseph Morrissey first took the helm of the dance division at Interlochen Center for the Arts, a boarding high school in Interlochen, Michigan, he found a fully established pre-professional program with space to grow. And his vision was big, with plans to stage the kind of ambitious repertory he'd experienced during his dance career. But the realities quickly set in. During his first year in 2015, the department was denied by the George Balanchine Trust to license any Balanchine ballets—the dancers were not quite ready.

This early disappointment didn't derail Morrissey. In just four years, he has not only raised Interlochen's training standards, he's staged ambitious full-length ballets and been granted the rights to works by Merce Cunningham, Agnes de Mille and, yes, Balanchine. Guest artists regularly visit, and he's initiated major plans to expand the dance department building. Morrissey is only 37, but it should come as no surprise that he's done so much so fast—his entire life's journey has prepared him to be an artistic leader.

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Kensington Macmillen in class at CPYB. Photo by Joel Thomas Photography, courtesy of CPYB

Last year, Kensington MacMillen auditioned for summer programs away from home for the first time. A longtime Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet student, MacMillen had spent previous summers at her home studio, but now she was ready to branch out. After auditioning for three programs, her first response was a rejection from Miami City Ballet.

"A bunch of people from here had gotten in, and I didn't," she says. "So then you just kind of panic." She was still waiting to hear from the other programs and worried that she'd have nowhere to go.

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Boston Ballet School students tour Walnut Hill School for the Arts. Photo by Igor Burlak, courtesy of Boston Ballet

Over the years, one thing kept Boston Ballet School director Margaret Tracey up at night. While she feels enormous pride in the training the school's pre-professional division provides, she worried about how her students are doing outside of dance: namely, in academics and residential life. "My sleepless nights happen when I think about a young student who's living on their own and struggling with something, or whose online school program is overwhelming them," says Tracey. "Those sit outside our core competencies as a ballet school, and, yet, I can't ignore that it's a huge part of their daily experience."

Though Boston Ballet School has provided housing and academic options to its pre-professional students, they haven't proved sustainable. That will soon change. Next fall, BBS will join forces with the dance program at Walnut Hill School for the Arts, a boarding high school in nearby Natick, Massachusetts. The partnership, called Boston Ballet School's Pre-Professional Division at Walnut Hill, seems like a win-win for both organizations: It offers BBS dancers college-preparatory academics and an on-site residential facility, and gives Walnut Hill an affiliation with a major ballet company.

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To Share With Students

It's summer intensive season, people! Dancers go away to train for weeks at a time and come home having grown by leaps and bounds from all of the endless hours of focused attention with some of the nation's top talent.

Wanting to stay abreast of all of the fabulous summer programs going on this summer? Instagram is the way to do it! We've compiled a list of summer program handles for your perusal. It's certainly not comprehensive, but it's a start!

Enjoy your social-media deep-dive, ladies and gentlemen!

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Watmora Casey's students compete at Youth America Grand Prix, where he was named Outstanding Teacher in 2011. Photo by Kristie Kahns

Dance Teacher asked nine respected instructors to identify the most common technique mistakes they see when addressing a group of students for the first time. Here, they discuss the origins of these problems and offer their best solutions.

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Upper-level Boston Ballet School students take a partnering class. Photo by Igor Burlak Photography, courtesy of Boston Ballet School

Boston Ballet School has joined the list of schools that are official partners of the Prix de Lausanne international ballet competition. As a partner, BBS offers competition winners scholarships for one year of training or a year-long apprenticeship with the company. Prix de Lausanne partners include American Ballet Theatre's Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School, Houston Ballet Academy, San Francisco Ballet School and University of North Carolina School of the Arts.

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Boston Ballet's Isaac Akiba and Erica Cornejo rehearsing Yury Yanowsky's Smoke and Mirrors

Before Isaac Akiba became a soloist with Boston Ballet, his Boston Ballet School teacher Kathleen Mitchell taught him that it's his responsibility to make every moment in class count.

“One time in class, it wasn’t my group’s turn to do the combination, and we were just standing there.  She said, ‘Every chance you get, you can be working on something. If you’re in the back, work on your arms.' I still think about that now when I take company class. You’re always able to learn something.”

See Akiba perform in Boston Ballet’s mixed repertory program Mirrors tonight through May 28 at The Boston Opera House.

Photo by Sabi Varga, courtesy of Boston Ballet

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